Of the 96 players taken on the first day of the 2005 NFL Draft, 44 partook in the Senior Bowl festivities in Mobile.
"Each of the players here understand this is an opportunity," Tennessee Titans and North Squad head coach Jeff Fischer said. "They understand
they are the best and this is an opportunity to grab some eyes in
pursuit of their life-long dream to play in the National Football
The Senior Bowl differs from its Combines counterpart in that the
coaches and scouts get to see how a player practices, and the old
saying that many head coaches adhere to is, "practice as you play."
It is also a chance to spend time getting to know the individual
players without being constrained to 15 minutes in Indianapolis.
The Senior Bowl selection process has its pitfalls with players turning
down their invitations but the talent is unquestioned.
Eighty-three players who went to the Senior Bowl in 2005 ended up being
drafted. In total, 97 players were initially invited with a few more
injury replacements sprinkled in.
Tennessee went Senior Bowl heavy, selecting six players from the roster
and this year they get to coach one of those squads! The Washington Redskins were equally fond of the week-long events, also selecting six
"Our staff looks at this as a resource," Fischer explained, noting his
Titans owned 13 draft selections last year. "We, obviously, look at
this week very, very closely and I think one can assume because of the
relationship we have with the players that we will have a better feel.
We are going to look at not only what they have done on the field but
the relationships, personalities and character off of the field."
Don't think the Tampa Bay Buccaneers enjoyed their spot in the sun?
They selected a Senior Bowl participant in each of the first four
rounds last year, then took a one-round break before selecting another
Senior Bowl member in the sixth.
By contrast, the Oakland Raiders did not find as much usefulness with
the Mobile contingent, taking just two players, but at least they were
from the team that they coached.
The Indianapolis Colts did not select a single Senior Bowl player but
getting knocked out of the playoffs will allow them prime pickings of
this year's crop. Other teams that did not have one Senior Bowl player
join their rosters include: the Cincinnati Bengals and Houston Texans.
With only three teams out of 32 going in another direction for various
reasons last year, the players are clearly auditioning for the masses.
The staff of NFL teams comes in knowing that the practices will be run
crisply, giving them a chance to look at every player on the field. A
long look at a prospective draftee is granted and they can follow that
up with a lengthy interview, accompanied by the quirky questionnaires.
"They put a lot into the player they select so I understand they have
to be thorough in the process," Senior Bowl participant Martin Nance, a
wide receiver out of Miami (OH), explained.
The more players realize that this is the best opportunity to shine on
and off the field, the more players that will end up with a phone call
on Draft Day in April.
"Don't let us see you sweat," one AFC scout offered. "In other words,
if you are tired and can barely stand, play like this is the your last
play. Hard work gets you noticed."
And that is the predominate trait that will elevate some and diminish
the value of others. The game means less to these scouts and coaches
as they are often on plane rides out of town three days before the
Senior Bowl game actually is played. Monday through Wednesday is the
time to get dirty for these players. Good practice habits and being
yourself during the interview process could land them in their favorite
Draw of the Senior Bowl
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